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Month of Hope

By Stewart Littler :  22/02/2010 :  Comments (33) :
Well, the month of death is more than halfway through, and it's been a little like taking a plaster off — fucking hurts at first but soon gets a whole load better. I, along with many other Blues will be jetting off to Lisbon on Thursday, confident of seeing us through to the last 16 of the Europa League, so will struggle to post much before March begins.

So, I wanted to get some thoughts on my thoughts. Most of us, if we are deeply honest with ourselves, would have settled for 6 points from the whole of February, in one form or another. At the same time, most of us are mightily pissed off at THAT defeat, and more importantly, the manner of it. What can't be ignored is that since the beginning of 2010, Everton have played 7 games, 5 of them against 5 of the current top 6 in the league, and taken 16 points from the 21 available.

Some have gotten excited, some haven't, and that's fine — we've all watched Everton enough to know we will ALWAYS do things the hard way. Some have asked if 4th is possible — well of course it is, mathematically. But is it realistic?

Well, we've only 12 games to go, so that is a hindrance. We're 8 points behind City & Spurs, 7 behind the Shite and the Villa. I was quite surprised to learn that since the turn of the year, we've actually made up 7 points on Spurs, 6 on the Shite, 5 on City and 4 on the Villa. Those figures suggest that it is possible.

First things first — we have to take care of our end of the bargain. After recent results, I think it is only right that we EXPECT to take another 13 points minimum from the next 5 (Spurs, HULL, Birmingham, BOLTON, Wolves) — anything less and it will be time to accept a bridge too far. A lot of people have questioned our ability to 'win ugly' following the debacle at Anfield and the footballing victories that followed — have they forgot Wigan & Sunderland, both in the afore-named category.

After that, it's a case of IF (a massive if certainly) we can manage that, where are we likely to be as we head into the final straight? Still 8th is the simple answer as no way will we catch anyone by that time. A look at their fixtures might suggest we'll be much closer though:

Spurs: EVERTON, Man City, BLACKBURN, Stoke, PORTSMOUTH (= 8??)
Man City: Chelsea, SPURS, Sunderland, Fulham, WIGAN (= 8??)
Shite: BLACKBURN, Wigan, PORTSMOUTH, United, SUNDERLAND (= 10??)
Villa: SUNDERLAND, Stoke, Wigan, WOLVES, Chelsea (= 8??)

A lot of conjecture I know, but a scenario like the above would leave us still 8th, 4 points behind the Shite, 3 behind Spurs & City, and 2 behind the Villa, with that all important game in hand to play against City (Villa would also still have a game in hand).

With 6 games to play as well as the GIH at Eastlands, I would take that scenario now, and if we got there, would be confident of securing 4th from there on in. And that is why I now officially christen March the month of hope — where none existed before, the glimmer gets brighter.

Good luck to all the Blues travelling to Portugal and please ensure we do our club and city proud in the expected respects that will be paid to the tragic victims in Madeira. COYB!

Reader Comments

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Mike Allison
1   Posted 22/02/2010 at 18:31:58

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I think we should expect to win every home game for the rest of the season, any points dropped will feel like throwing them away.

The make or break is the fact that we have Tottenham, Birmingham, Aston Villa and Man City all to play away. If we leave Birmingham aside as I don’t think they’re in the running, it becomes three huge away games. Win them all and fourth does not seem ridiculous, and even without winning them all, getting decent results means qualifying for Europe through league position, again, is definitely realistic. Our run in is not difficult.
Kunal Desai
2   Posted 22/02/2010 at 18:49:01

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One thing is for certain: if we are to make a real fist of making any late surge towards the top 4, our away form will have to improve drastically.

Expecting to get 13 points from the next five games? Maybe... though realistically I think it’ll be more like 10. Birmingham away will be tough.

Aiden Doyle
3   Posted 22/02/2010 at 18:54:46

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We’re coming up to the time of year when I get obsessed by the BBC’s match predictor. I suspect I’m not the only one.
Dave Smith
4   Posted 22/02/2010 at 19:14:52

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Aiden - Nope. But i find that i always give Everton a more generous amount of wins without even noiticing!

I think it’s going to be difficult. We are going to have to rely on the the teams finnishing 1-4 picking up both cups, so 6th and 7th are also Europa qualifing places.

I would like to see us get 5th, but realisticly see us getting 6th, but get the feeling we will end of with 7th.
Marc Williams
5   Posted 22/02/2010 at 19:52:57

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We need to factor in the loss of Donovan as he’s only with us for another two weeks and has been a BIG part of our now more balanced formation.

Also the position of Pompey will throw up a wild card as if they go belly up, we’ll loose the points we won against them.

Joey Brown
6   Posted 22/02/2010 at 20:12:24

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Just messing around with a Prem Predictor... I tried to go with my gut and it ended up looking pretty unlikely. We’d have to win probably 10 of our last 12 games... doubling our win total for this season. Not impossible... but fucking hard in a predictor.
Kevy Quinn
7   Posted 22/02/2010 at 20:12:47

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I think it's a case of taking one game at a time. After all, we are Everton and will probably do something stupid. But after Saturday, who knows what's possible this season?

Hope all who are heading to Portugal have a better time than the Benfica disaster.

I think we might need to think about giving Arteta a rest on Thursday. He won't be able to play Thursday then Sunday and Spurs is the tougher game... we’ll need him there.
Mike Oates
8   Posted 22/02/2010 at 20:51:24

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Hope I’m wrong but I do think trying to overcome 4 other teams will be too tough. Last year we only really had Villa to catch and we just about did that, due to our good form and Villa having a rough patch. I really don't think that we will see 4 teams struggling at the same time.

I think only City and maybe Villa will struggle from now in and out of our remaining 12 games we should expect about 25 points giving us a total of about 63 and good enough for 6th — but at least back in Europe.
Keith Glazzard
9   Posted 22/02/2010 at 21:14:10

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Marc - do you know who would benefit from Pompey being closed down? I’ll give you three guesses.

The only so-called top team that have lost to them so far. Fatty’s lot.
Pat Finegan
10   Posted 22/02/2010 at 21:39:42

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We are talking about qualifying for the top 4! What a turn around in the past 3 months. In December we were talking about a relegation battle and now here we are talking about the prospect of playing Champions league soccer.

Is it to be expected? No, but it is realistic and we should be able to see just how realistic in the coming months.
Mike Green
11   Posted 22/02/2010 at 21:45:03

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Keith Glazzard - "Fatty’s lot" - genuis :D
Vince Hindson
12   Posted 22/02/2010 at 21:57:24

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Don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade but, given the huge GD deficit we are suffering, effectively add another point we need to claw back.

I reckon 6th is the best we can hope for...
Dave Lynch
13   Posted 22/02/2010 at 22:02:52

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I don’t give a flying fuck where we finish.... As long as it’s above fatty's lot.
Peter Warren
14   Posted 22/02/2010 at 22:09:04

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I' not convinced we have the quality to put decent performances away from home. The real top teams control the game away from home... I don’t see us doing that yet or having enough pace to beat teams on the counter.

To expect us to win 10 games out of 12 or whatever we have left is unrelalistic, even the team that wins the title will not do that. If we win 7 I’ll be made up.
Jim Bean
15   Posted 22/02/2010 at 22:08:49

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It's a shame we have to play all our direct rivals away from home. If the games against Spurs, Villa and City were at home, I would be a lot more confident. On the other hand the fact that we are playing them at all gives us that opportunity to hurt them. But lose to Spurs on Sunday and it's probably all over for 4th.
Brendan O'Doherty
16   Posted 22/02/2010 at 22:46:51

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I reckon we could catch Fatty’s lot and one other - 6th being the best we could hope for. And no mean achievement that would be.
Iain Love
17   Posted 22/02/2010 at 22:48:02

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Top 3 as is
4th- R/s
5th-Spurs
6th Villa
7th- Us
8th -Citeh
Spurs ,Villa & us will be on goal difference
Don't like it but that's what my match predictor says.
Kevin Gillen
18   Posted 22/02/2010 at 22:47:10

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At least we are for once seeing the possibility of change! The shameful manipulation of our game has given us years of oligopoly by the Sky Four.

I am really looking forward to the possibility of some of the top four imploding. I am praying it will be the RS first but they have made a pact with the devil in the past.

I finally am beginning to believe Everton can do it next year. Sitteh will panic and change manager. Villa still need more investment and don’t look likely to get it. United are one injury away from mediocrity. Appy Arry will be in clink when the Portsmouth saga is revealed (he should be for selling us Bilic and Williamson — where is he now by the way?).

Liverpool will sell Gerrard and Torres and John Terry will be caught in bed with with Cheryl Cole, hopefully we will all get a glimpse on our mobiles. A brilliant footballing Everton, virtuous and free of debt will build a new superstadium in Skelmersdale and ride to the Champions League final. Oh! that spliff is really working its magic tonight!!

Jay Harris
19   Posted 22/02/2010 at 22:40:00

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Here is the final table from last year:

C 1 Man United 38 28 6 4 68 24 +44 90
CL 2 Liverpool 38 25 11 2 77 27 +50 86
CL 3 Chelsea 38 25 8 5 68 24 +44 83
CL 4 Arsenal 38 20 12 6 68 37 +31 72
EL 5 Everton 38 17 12 9 55 37 +18 63
EL 6 Ast Villa 38 17 11 10 54 48 +6 62
EL 7 Fulham 38 14 11 13 39 34 +5 53
8 Tottenham 38 14 9 15 45 45 0 51

Being reasonably optimistic, I think we’ll finish with 61 which may get us 6th but I think it’s a bridge too far to expect Spurs, Villa, City and the RS to all fall away while we don't so I think 6th is as good as it can get but NOTHING’S CERTAIN.
Peter Hall
20   Posted 22/02/2010 at 23:23:51

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If we keep the squad together for next year then there are no limits. But this year - just 5 home and 7 away left

OK we can win 4 out of 5 at home, allowing for a slip-up draw.

But we’ve only won 3 away so far. So we’ve got to double that, or better, to get anywhere. It’s the away form that’s going to have to change dramatically to live up to our recent home form. If it does — 6th at worst. Well, we have to prove what we can do now, but it’s away from home that will tell.
Keith Glazzard
21   Posted 22/02/2010 at 23:24:25

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Jay - as a young lad my university philosophy teacher used to stand there, go into some kind of trance and intone "The future is open".

Over the years I have wondered about this, often finding him to be correct in his assertion.

Everton’s future is no more open than it is right now.

Two games from destiny? Wow!
James Lauwervine
22   Posted 23/02/2010 at 09:44:46

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I love all this predictor stuff, it’s all complete nonsense and no one is ever right, but it’s such a laugh. The problem is that whilst we have undoubtedly played some great games and had some great results this year, draws against Birmingham and Wolves and defeat to Spurs are all distinctly possible and that would be it for any chance of 4th. We do have a habit of failing just when we seem to be about to really do something. Anyway, I agree with most that say 6th is as good as we can probably do this season.

I also think going out of the Europa this week would be a huge blow to confidence and will affect results after. We must go there, score first, and get through that round. I love watching the boys in Europe, we’re becoming used to it as a regular thing and I would miss it hugely next season. Six Stella from the offy, the kids and me round the telly for the build up, my eldest coming out with bizarre stats about the opposition (he’s a bit of a statto), it’s all great stuff and long may it continue. And hats off to those of you who make the journey there, not an option for me unfortunately.

BTW, I do have a bet from the start of the season with a Spurs fan at work on who will finish highest which he tried to call in a month ago. He’s gone strangely quiet of late.
Ian Walsh
23   Posted 23/02/2010 at 12:26:38

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With possibly 20 games left this season - we wont get 4th.
Jonathan Fletcher
24   Posted 23/02/2010 at 15:01:06

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Considering the start of the season issues, I’d bit your hand off for 6th and Europe again.
Jay Harris
25   Posted 23/02/2010 at 15:24:33

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Keith.

I had a mentor who constantly said:

"The Only thing that IS certain is that NOTHING is certain".

I guess that kind of means the same thing.

However the future looks bright right now.

Let's enjoy the moment.
Kev Lacey
26   Posted 23/02/2010 at 20:18:17

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I love the optimism, football fans were an a odd lot! Talking about us, so were going to win all/most of our games in the run-in but all our rivals are going to drop points against mediocre or dross teams (the same we’ve played or struggled against)!
My dad (SAFC diehard) always has me laughing with his ’Sunderland are persecuted/wronged by everyone and everything’ views and when he rolls them out its exactly the same as the one’s I hold about my beloved blues!!!!
If we lose the next two a lot of positive people now will be the one’s declaring its season over. Let’s enjoy the way were playing at the minute and the results, its been a long time coming this season!!
Anyone who’s off to Lisbon for Thurs, have its a great trip with the right result! COYB!
Andy Duff
27   Posted 24/02/2010 at 10:49:07

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we clinch 4th last game of the season Hibbo scores the winner. "I preidict a RIOT...."
Al Marples
28   Posted 24/02/2010 at 12:55:09

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4th will clearly be a bridge too far; it would require almost Championship form for 4½ months, and as well as we’ve done in 2010 thats not quite where we’re at yet.

In my mind, the biggest game of season is tomorrow in Lisbon, and its a bigger priority than the PL, because there's no point busting a gut to come 6th, and only get back into the 1st round of the competition we’re well into right now.
Matthew Tait
29   Posted 24/02/2010 at 13:42:54

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Kevin G - in answer to what happened to Danny Williamson, I heard recently that he runs a business investing in property in Portugal.

On the topic - there’s pretty much no way we’ll finish 4th, might as well accept it. Too much ground to make up, and we’re bound to lose points here and there. Next season looks bright though.
Alan Booth
30   Posted 24/02/2010 at 14:20:19

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Anyone know if the League cup has a Euro place? And what happens if Villa win it?
Matthew Tait
31   Posted 24/02/2010 at 14:53:56

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Yes as I understand it the League Cup has a Europa League place.

In terms of league placings, only the fifth place league finisher is actually guaranteed of playing in the Europa league. Sixth and seventh depend on both the cups being won by one of the teams in the top five league spots for getting into the Europa League.

Which means that if Villa win the League Cup but finish in eighth or worse, they would qualify for the Europa League at the expense of the seventh place league finisher.
Matthew Tait
32   Posted 24/02/2010 at 15:14:28

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Which I guess means that we should be cheering for Man U in that game, painful as that might be!
Peter Lee
33   Posted 25/02/2010 at 17:57:57

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I’m another saddo over these things I’m afraid.

If you look at the games all five still have to play City and Spurs play more teams who are in the top eight than us, Villa or LFC. The other thing to look at is games against teams desperate to stay up, but it’s impossible to identify who those might be in the last few games.

Sunderland feature widely for example.

So do Blackburn who won’t go down but Allardyce has turned them into, well, Bolton really ,so no easy points there then.

I see City and Spurs fading badly and Villa and LFC fighting it out for 4th. Villa could shade it but the FSW will send out teams which will be difficult to break down and will try and pinch a goal. Anyone disappointed with what they saw at Eastlands on Sunday was an idiot to expect anything otherwise.

I think we’ll finish sixth and we’d have taken that two months ago wouldn’t we? Villa could collapse quite spectacularly though, their squad is thin, so who knows. If we did get fourth the man should be voted manager of the epoch.

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